Westminster St George's by-election, 1931


Westminster St George's by-election, 1931

The Westminster St. George's by-election, 1931 was a parliamentary by-election held on 19 March 1931 for the British House of Commons constituency of Westminster St. George's.

Previous MP

The seat had become vacant on when the constituency's Conservative Member of Parliament (MP), Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, died on 14 February, aged 62. He been MP for the constituency since the 1929 general election, having previously sat for Colchester since 1910 and had served in the cabinets of David Lloyd George and Stanley Baldwin during the 1920s.

Background

The by-election took place against the background of a campaign led by the press magnates, Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere to remove Stanley Baldwin, then Leader of the Opposition. The United Empire Party and the Empire Free Trade Crusade.

The campaign had had some success. The Conservative Central Office had withdrawn support for its own candidate at the Twickenham by-election, 1929, who supported the Empire Free Trade policy. The U.E.P. had won the Paddington South by-election, 1930 from the Conservatives, and their splitting the right-wing vote at the Islington East by-election in February had allowed Labour to hold a seat they had been expected to lose.

Candidates

The industrialist Sir Ernest Petter announced his candidacy as an Independent Conservative opposed to Baldwin's leadership of the Conservative Party on 28 February. Though he claimed to be free of party and running at the request of the electors, he was eagerly backed by the Beaverbrook and Rothermere papers, the Daily Express and Daily Mail.

The Conservative Party originally selected John Moore-Brabazon. He withdrew on 28 February, saying he could not defend Baldwin. Baldwin, under pressure to resign as Leader of the Conservative Party, toyed with the idea of resigning his safe Worcestershire seat of Bewdley and contesting the by-election himself.

The eventual Conservative candidate was Alfred Duff Cooper, who had been MP for Oldham from 1924 until his defeat in 1929. He had been Financial Secretary to the War Office from 1928 to 1929.

In 1929, there had been a Labour candidate for the constituency, but Labour did not contest the by-election.

Campaign

One notable speech of the campaign was by Stanley Baldwin. At the Queen's Hall on 17 March, he accused the press proprietors as aiming at "power without responsibility - the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages".

Results

The result was a victory for Duff Cooper. He won 59.9% of the votes. He was unopposed at the ensuing general election later that year. He remained MP for the constituency until 1945.

The result of the by-election was an important factor in Stanley Baldwin's retention of the leadership of the Conservative Party. Following the collapse of the Labour Government, the Conservatives would unite with the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald to form the National Government, which enjoyed a sweeping landslide victory later in the year.

Votes

Election box candidate with party link
party = Conservative Party (UK)
candidate = Duff Cooper
votes = 17,242
percentage = 59.9
change =
Election box candidate with party link
party = Independent Conservative
candidate = Sir Ernest Willoughby Petter
votes = 11,532
percentage = 40.1
change =
Election box majority
votes = 5,710
percentage = 19.8
change =
Election box turnout
votes = 28,774
percentage = 53.1
change =
Election box hold with party link
winner = Conservative Party (UK)
swing =

Election box candidate with party link
party = Conservative Party (UK)
candidate = Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt.
votes = 22,448
percentage = 78.1
change =
Election box candidate with party link
party = Labour Party (UK)
candidate = J G Butler
votes = 6,294
percentage = 21.9
change =
Election box majority
votes = 16,154
percentage = 56.2
change =
Election box turnout
votes = 28,742
percentage = 53.3
change =
Election box hold with party link
winner = Conservative Party (UK)
swing =

ee also

* Westminster St. George's constituency
* List of United Kingdom by-elections
* United Kingdom by-election records

References

*
*


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